Channel Seven commentator Johanna Griggs has schooled ABC journalist Tracey Holmes over her claims Seven had pre-broadcast access to a “minute-by-minute” rundown of the maligned Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.
Griggs, who told viewers on live TV on Sunday she was “furious” closing ceremony organisers were “wrecking a tradition” by not showing footage of athletes including flagbearer Kurt Fearnley, again slammed the ceremony as a “farce”.
The TV host and former medal-winning swimmer said in a statement “at no point” did the media guide provided by Games organisers say “there wouldn’t be one single shot shown of athletes watching the performances”.
Griggs’ latest outburst came as now-retired 13-time Paralympian Fearnley told radio station Triple J the controversy was misguided and blown out of proportion.
“There’s so many reasons that we could be firing up right now,” he said.
“We’re not allowed to be fathers or sons or business people because we can’t fly like everyone else does. That’s worth blowing up about.
“When we’re not funding people enough to even go to the toilet and feel catered for, that’s worth blowing up about.”
Amid the crossfire, it was claimed the advertising agency behind the closing ceremony debacle earned $46 million for its work on the Gold Coast event.
US agency Jack Morton, which has offices in Melbourne and Sydney, charged $191,000 per minute for the four hours of opening and closing ceremonies, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Jack Morton’s managing director Helen Graney confirmed the company developed “creative elements” of the ceremonies with GOLDOC, the Games’ organising committee.
“We share GOLDOC’s disappointment of the level of criticism targeted at specific aspects of last night’s ceremony,” Ms Graney, who was contacted by The New Daily, said on Monday.
Earlier, Griggs, who has hosted Olympic Games and Australian Open broadcasts since signing with Seven in 1993, went to great lengths to rebut any suggestion her surprise and anger at the snub of athletes was feigned.
In a long statement released on Twitter, she rebutted several points Holmes – who had asked why Seven claimed they were shocked by the athletes’ non-inclusion – made in an online ABC story and in a radio interview.
Firstly, thank u to everyone for your overwhelming support around this issue. I’m still sad that a wonderful Commonwealth Games has been tarnished with such a sad ending. But when someone has a crack at your integrity, u have to respond. I hope this answers some of your questions pic.twitter.com/BHY1mTvsSO
— Johanna Griggs (@JohGriggs7) April 16, 2018
Holmes said before the Gold Coast closing ceremony, “all rights holders” including Seven “were given a minute-by-minute briefing” outlining how the ceremony would unfold.
She said the 34-page media guide “makes no mention of athletes marching in as part of the ceremony”.
Griggs confirmed she was at the briefing and that she knew organisers were “going to try something different” by having athletes already inside Carrara Stadium when the 8.30pm ceremony began.
But “at no point” did the media guide say “there wouldn’t be one single shot shown of athletes watching the performances,” Griggs said.
Seven assumed, she said, “that the host’s vision would feature athletes non-stop, celebrating, letting their hair down.”
She explained that as rights holders, Seven had a single news camera in the stadium.
Holmes suggested Seven could have started broadcasting 15 minutes earlier to show the athletes. That would have interrupted the network’s My Kitchen Rules, which cracked it for its biggest audience of the year.
— Tracey Holmes (@TraceyLeeHolmes) April 16, 2018
I reckon if I’d paid $40mil to be rights holder for Commonwealth Games and organisers told me I couldn’t broadcast the athletes & @kurtfearnley entering the stadium I’d be telling them, ‘watch this space’. #ClosingCeremony
— Tracey Holmes (@TraceyLeeHolmes) April 15, 2018
Griggs said the pre-show footage was embargoed, and “I stand by the fact that we could only show the vision supplied to us on the night.”
While Griggs aimed her first broadside at host broadcaster NEP, GOLDOC chairman Peter Beattie told Sunrise the “buck stops with us.”